Radar Handoffs

'Chestnut 493 Yankee Victor, contact Memphis Center on 127.85.'

When one air traffic controller passes you to another, you don’t magically pop into that new controller’s airspace like some low-budget special effect. The new controller knows you are on your way, well before you get there. When you are handed off from controller to controller, there’s nothing initial about making initial contact. You’ll see what I mean.

When is the FAA’s hear back program not a hear back program? When an air traffic controller hears your read back but doesn’t listen. What the book says is supposed to happen, and what actually happens, doesn’t always match. Who pays for it? It might just be you.

We all make mistakes. It’s kind of fun when an air traffic controller corrects his own error with a good sense of humor. It doesn’t happen too often.

No one laughs, though, when a pilot screws up a hold short clearance. It’s almost unbelievable how many times per month I hear professional pilots make this mistake. There’s zero tolerance for a failure to read back a hold short instruction as our example will show.

Question of the Week

You are flying VFR over Central New Mexico, while talking to Albuquerque Center. You are currently in radar contact with Albuquerque, and you are flying along a Victor Airway just above the airway’s minimum obstruction clearance altitude. As you pass through a gap between the mountains, the controller at Albuquerque Center says, “Radar contact lost. Report over the Silver City VOR.”

Here’s the question, and it is a two-parter: First, has Albuquerque Center terminated radar service for your flight? Second, what would you say to the air traffic controller as you crossed over the Silver City VOR?

When you think you know the answers to those questions, go to the link ATCcommunication.com/answers. There you will find the correct answers to both questions, along with an explanation about why those answers apply.

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